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Standard Life has posted results that beat City forecasts, with a 9 per cent jump in annual operating profits to £723m. Analysts had been expecting a 3 per cent increase.

The life insurer and asset manager said that assets under administration rose by 16 per cent to £357bn over 2016. This was driven by market movements. There was a net outflow of £2.6bn as demand for GARS, which has been one of the company’s star products, sagged.

Standard Life also announced an 8 per cent increase in the dividend, to almost 20p per share.

Keith Skeoch, chief executive, said:

We are already seeing the benefits of targeted investments to further our diversification agenda, including the success of our newer investment solutions, and the sharpened focus on operational efficiency. This increased pace of strategic delivery will ensure that we continue to meet changing client and customer needs, and generate growing and sustainable returns for our shareholders.

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